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Telomeres in a Life-Span Perspective : A New ''Psychobiomarker''?
Article from Journal - e-Journal
Current Directions in Psychological Science vol. 18 no. 01 (Feb. 2009)
02. Telomeres in a Life-Span Perspective - A New 'Psychobiomarker'.pdf
In order to more fully understand associations between psychological stress and health, it is helpful for researchers to identify ‘‘psychobiomarkers,’’ or biological measures that are regulated in part by psychological function and that predict longevity. Telomere length appears to be such a measure. Telomeres, the protective caps at the tips of chromosomes, shorten with age, and this shortening predicts disease and longevity. Leukocyte telomere length may be best viewed through a life-span approach, as it reflects in part the cumulative number of cell divisions that have occurred and the long-term biochemical environment. Recently, a critical mass of studies demonstrated that telomeres appear to shorten with chronic stress, although the mechanisms are unknown. This paper reviews what appear to be malleable determinants of rate of telomere attrition, focusing on early life chronic stressors and metabolic adversity (poor nutrition during development, and obesity). The next generation of research will benefit from experimental and longitudinal models integrating genetic variation, social environments, life experience, and health behaviors.
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